A strong opinion mixed with some public backlash is nothing new to Dan Dakich. You could probably even say that’s what makes him great as a sports talk host radio, seeing as how he’s not afraid to take on anybody or anything. But no matter how that mentality or tone come across to you, or no matter how many times you’ve seen a story about Dakich being in a Twitter feud or serving a short suspension for coming after someone, internally, he’s not the pain in the ass some have made him out to be. In fact it’s just the opposite.
Going all the way back to his coaching days at Bowling Green University, Dakich has made it a point to be a part of the local community. He believes his platform as a radio host, as well as a former Indiana basketball player and coach, is one that can be used to do a lot of good. Though it’s a little uncomfortable for Dakich to talk about the good he’s doing, you better believe he’s making a lot of positive things happen.
“I’m really proud of the new bike campaign me and my wife created,” said Dakich. “We were driving down the street and saw three kids, two of them had bikes and one didn’t, and I said that’s bullshit. We have to get kids some bikes. So we decided to find kids that need bikes and to go out and give it to them. Sometimes out of our own pocket. We’re partnering with the Indiana Sports Corp., which is the organization that brings the Super Bowl and Final Four to Indy. We’re going to make this thing massive. I’m feeling a little uncomfortable talking about what a good guy I am,” he laughs.
Sure, maybe Dakich will strongly criticize a player during a TV broadcast for poking an opponent in the eye, but he’s not from the cookie cutter mold of other color commentators. Regardless, don’t think he’s just some loud jerk behind a mic. He’s always real with the audience, which should be appreciated more it sometimes is.
How did this all start? How did the guy who will happily tell you that he once held Michael Jordan to 13 points in an NCAA Tournament game become one of the best hosts the state of Indiana has to offer? Well, oddly enough it began with a week-long audition while on pain meds.
The year was 2008 and Dakich had just been informed by Indiana University they weren’t going to lift the interim tag and hire him as the full-time head coach. He’d been a coach for nearly his entire adult life and gave so much to IU over the span of several years, but the time was right to seek a new passion. Luckily for Dakich, he didn’t realize at the time just how right the timing really was.
He showed a natural ability for the industry while doing coaches shows on TV for Fox Sports Ohio. He was funny, engaging and entertaining. So much so, that a friend he had from college, who was the program director at WPIC in Indianapolis, told Dakich that when his coaching days were over, he should give radio a shot. So, after cleaning out his office inside Assembly Hall in Bloomington, that thought came into his head. He then decided to reach out to his old friend.
“The day Indiana hired Tom Crean my son and I were cleaning out my locker in the coach’s office,” Dakich said. “My daughter didn’t want me to get the Indiana job and my kids didn’t really want me to coach, so I thought, ‘The hell with it, I’ll call Kent Sterling!’ I called him and said, hey, I don’t really want to coach, you got any openings?”
Just like a coach drawing up a perfect inbounds play, Dakich timed his call perfectly. Sterling had just decided to replace Colin Cowherd for a local show in Indy. Dakich would have the opportunity to audition with Mark Boyle, the current play-by-play voice of the Indiana Pacers.
“It’ll be 12 years in September,” Dakich said. “I got really lucky because it happened to be the perfect timing.”
The only problem was Dakich was fresh off a terrible knee infection that nearly killed him. That meant he needed pain meds to make it through the day, which also means he did a full week of shows while on them. Needless to say, he made it through and landed the job. There’s no telling what Dakich said on the air while on pain meds, but 107.5 The Fan owes it to the rest of world to release the tapes for all to hear.
For a host that puts himself out there as much as Dakich does, having a PD that’s in your corner is invaluable. When the suits get mad about something that’s said, you need to know the guy in charge is going to have your back. That’s exactly what Jeff Rickard is to Dakich at The Fan.
“He’s fantastic,” Dakich said. “We’ve been through a bunch. Here’s what I like about Jeff: he gives you input, both good and bad. Sometimes I have a tendency to get too political, like, I’ll say why doesn’t everyone just shut the hell up? I’m not on either side, I’m not a conservative or a Democrat, and he’ll tell me it’s great but that I went too long with it. He’s really good, because he’s a pro. Jeff is a pro. He’s a pro broadcaster and he has a passion for our station to get better.
“This is something I never really grasped as a coach, but he really believes in the ‘it’s the process’ thing. I wanted to win this game today, this practice today. He’s like, ‘Look, we just need to make our station better. Just keep getting better.’ The feedback that I’ve gotten from him is fantastic. Everyone wants feedback, we all like to know when we’re doing something well. I personally like to know when I f**ked something up. He’ll tell me. He’ll say, look, you went too long, or you’ve got to make sure you hit the outs. He’ll show you where it is that you didn’t hit the outs or where you started arguing with somebody and lost listenership. I got to tell you that’s help me out a ton.”
After nearly 12 years of being on the air in Indianapolis, Dakich is engrained into the local community. But it wasn’t long ago that he had another opportunity to take a job at a station in Chicago. Dakich grew up in the Chicago area and listened religiously to WLS while shooting baskets in the driveway. The opportunity seemed too good to pass up. But money always talks.
“Well, the decision was money (laughs),” Dakich said. “I’ll be honest with you, Chicago made me a great deal, and I never imagined in a million years that that my station would match it. But I had a clause in my contract that gave them 10 days to match. Quite frankly I figured with the money that I’d be gone.
“When I made the offer I was thrilled but when my station matched I was equally as thrilled, because I love being in Indy. Do I always see myself in Indy? Sure, I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me.”
Life is good for Dakich these days. He’s got a great radio show at a great station, one of the best PD’s you’ll find, and a TV career that’s really taken off. Sure he’s opinionated and it’s even likely it’ll land him in hot water again at some point, but just know that he’s working at it every day to be better.
“Sometimes I say stupid shit and don’t live up to that,” Dakich said. “Sometimes I hurt people because of my mouth. But I’m trying to do better.”
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.